7 Promenade Pierre Vernier, Noumea
We arrived… via the lift from our beautiful ocean-front room on the fourth floor of the hotel. We walked through the tropical gardens towards the pool and voila! Le Sextant restaurant.
We chose here because… Nous aimons les fromages, plain and simple. Le Meridien Noumea hosts an annual mid-year French Cheese Festival, where cheeses (and a cheese master) are flown in from France for a 10-day smorgasbord of cheese-lovers' banquets.
Our first impression was… A drool-inducing one. Former French President Charles de Gaulle once said in a moment of frustration: "How can someone govern a country that has 375 kinds of cheese?" At first glance, it seems they are all represented here (not quite, but there are more than 130 on offer, and the variety is mind-boggling).
We started with… The suggestion from Maitre Fromager, that's French for Cheese Master, Olivier Poulard: chunks of a parmesan-type hard cheese, a perfect match with the champagne we were quaffing. As the dinner progressed, the cheese offerings become more sophisticated. The gooier ones we ate with bread, but many we just picked up with our hands and savoured, alongside the excellent wine matches by the sommelier.
The highlight of the night was…
The enormous selection of goat's cheeses which even managed to convert me to the blue side after 50 years of refusing its delights – and seeing Olivier's barely-disguised pride in the products he was serving.
An array of tempting treats served buffet style – alas, the over-indulgence of cheese meant feasting was limited to our eyes.
Come here if… You believe the best thing in life is cheese. Come hungry.
Was graciously picked up by my host, but the French Cheese Festival buffet dinner costs around 10 000 XPF (around NZ$140) per person for the full buffet plus three glasses of wine.